Friday, December 19, 2008

Pakistan's Jihad

Reuel Marc Gerecht, at the Weekly Standard, warns that Palistan's holy warriors could be the world's most dangerous:

Pakistani militant groups have grown up in a philosophically sophisticated environment of Islamic militancy. Where once Lashkar was, more or less, a region-specific terrorist organization (focused on Jammu and Kashmir), its appetite for action is growing. All Islamic fundamentalist organizations, if they turn toward jihad, have the potential for a global mission. (Western-imposed borders on the historic Islamic community, the umma, are an insult to God; the enemy, the Judeo-Christian West, is everywhere and thus can be struck everywhere.)

It's a good bet that Lashkar and other Pakistani holy-warrior organizations will in the not too distant future operationally reach beyond the Indian subcontinent. With al Qaeda now permanently headquartered in Pakistan, it's not hard to imagine the organization and its Arab Sunni core being absorbed by a group like Lashkar. Britain's domestic intelligence service, MI5, which is America's best frontline defense against Pakistani jihadists who carry British passports--and tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis, at home and abroad, carry such passports, which make travel to the United States easy--gives the impression that we may have already reached the absorption point. These Pakistani jihadist groups are larger than al Qaeda ever was, and their size is a distinct intelligence vulnerability, especially if the Pakistani intelligence agency is ever willing to move aggressively against them and the larger religious movements that they feed on.

Nonetheless, it seems that al Qaeda may be on the verge of a big growth spurt in the subcontinent. In the Arab world, the birthplace of modern Islamic holy war, al Qaeda's prospects have dimmed. Odds are Osama bin Laden has lost the "decisive battle" in Mesopotamia, and with it, eventually, the battle for hearts and minds among Arabs.

Operations inevitably follow philosophy. As the jihadist philosophy expands in Pakistan and likely into India's 150 million-strong Muslim population, so will operations. Hezbollah became an extremely deadly organization precisely because it drank so deeply from revolutionary Iran's global call to rally the world's Muslims against the United States. The Egyptian Islamic Jihad Organization of Ayman al-Zawahiri became something to fear when its objectives transcended the Nile valley. Operational competence goes up as Islamic holy warriors look over the horizon. Global missions draw global talent. Even without weapons of mass destruction, these terrorists could bring on a terrible clash between India and Pakistan.

We will have to wait anxiously to discover whether Pakistan's Islamist intellectuals and holy warriors can go where an Arab-run al Qaeda has been unable to reach - into the laboratories and minds of men with sky-high IQs. European and American intelligence and security services ought to be increasingly attentive to the possibility that the Pakistani jihadist call will have more appeal and try to monitor those Pakistanis who could make all the difference in the acquisition of nuclear and chemical weapons.

Still, Pakistan may follow the examples of Iraq, Egypt, and Algeria, where all the Islamist savagery finally undid the sympathy of large parts of the population for holy warriors. Jihadists inevitably become infatuated with killing, making their understanding of God's wrath just a bit too much to swallow, even for Muslims who loathe the West. Until that happens, though, we will have to strengthen our intelligence capacities and continue to act preemptively against terrorist plots, and to hope that the Pakistani military, a forceful, proud, and hierarchical institution, will itself act against men who don't recognize its authority - and who blow up women and children.
Be sure to check out Gerecht's recent piece on the likihood that the Obama adiministration will revive the outsourcing of extrajudicial rendition of terrorist suspects to countries not shy about enhanced interrogation techniques.

If the left is angy now,
over the Warren invocation, wait until the Obama Justice Department sends a few captured Pakistani militants to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Uzbekistan.


Anonymous said...

I wonder when the peace activists will go to that part of the world and implore them to lay down their weapons?

AmPowerBlog said...

Thanks Raul!